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October 13, 2013

FIBROMYALGIA AND EXERCISE

by Liliana Fitts

fibromialgia and exercise

I use to be a competitive bodybuilder; in fact, I won Miss Argentina bodybuilding in 1988.  In 1990 I moved to Los Angeles with the dreams and hopes of competing for a title in the U.S. but shortly after I moved I began to experience inexplicable symptoms of muscle pain and stiffness throughout the body. No health professional was giving me a diagnosis.  I wanted to have a name for what I had so I could actually do what was necessary to get well.  I remember going to an orthopedic doctor who took an MRI and told me that nothing was wrong with me.  I also went to a general doctor who performed a blood test and no inflammation or a detectable disease was showing in the results.  It was very confusing and depressing. Those of you who have Fibromyalgia know what I am talking about.  Did they think I was crazy and making up the symptoms? Here I was the picture of health and I was in pain, not able to sleep through the night because of the pain, and feeling very fatigued throughout the day.

It took four years until a rheumatologist diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. It is a condition that I have managed since.

Thanks to my passion for exercise I did not give up and I made sure I continued to stay physically active, strong and in shape.  It was a difficult process figuring out what kind of exercising and how intense I could work out without getting in more pain.  That is how I became a Pilates Instructor fifteen years ago.  Pilate’s exercises were the perfect balance between muscle toning, core strength and flexibility.  I use both weight training and Pilates in my exercise routine.

WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?

According to Web MD, Fibromyalgia is the most common musculoskeletal condition after Osteoarthritis. Its characteristics include widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue, as well as other symptoms.

In the past, doctors believed that exercise might worsen Fibromyalgia symptoms.  So doctors encouraged patients to seek rest, not activity. But recent scientific studies have shown that, for most patients, range of motion, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning exercises are safe and necessary. The objective of exercise is to start gaining physical tolerance to physical activity so that normal, everyday chores do not cause pain.

According to Dr. Steve Windley in Pure Health MD, not every person with Fibromyalgia has the same areas or degrees of pain, strength loss or stiffness so it is important that each person’s fitness program should be slightly different.

TIPS FOR WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOU HAVE FIBROMYALGIA

Keeping a diary might be helpful in order to know when you are overdoing it and it would serve as a record of progress over time.

Improving posture is very important for individuals with Fibromyalgia so other parts of the body like arms, legs and neck work more efficiently reducing strain resulting in less pain.  This would allow exercising more and building more tolerance to that activity making it easier each workout session.

In my experience, continuing to do the things I loved such as exercising, salsa dancing, painting was incredibly important not only for my physical health but for my emotional health.  Life did not end with Fibromyalgia.  I look at this condition as a gift.  Over the years I have helped clients that had Fibromyalgia and needed my guidance to exercise, build strength and muscular endurance as well as flexibility.

Stay positive, stay active, be well!  BELIEVE IT …BE IT!!!

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